Ukraine turns loss into a win in Azerbaijan (4-1)

Despite a clear defeat conceded to Azerbaijan Baku Fires at the Olympic Sports Center ‘Serhedchi’, the Ukraine Otamans have reached the World Series of Boxing (WSB) semi-finals with just a one bout difference. They can thank their star Vasyl Lomachenko, winner of his highly-anticipated battle against Albert Selimov.

Azerbaijan Baku Fires had placed a lot of hope in their first boxer, Bantamweight (50-54kg) Magomed Kurbanov. To say the least, the orthodox Russian has not disappointed against former Paris United member Alexandr Riscan. Fitter, quicker and smarter, Kurbanov has extended is perfect WSB record with a unanimous decision 50:44, showing the way to his teammates.

In order to keep the mouth-watering Lightweight (57-61kg) clash for the very end of the evening, the match went straight on to Middleweight (68-73kg) with Mikalai Vesialou and Ukraine Otamans Olexandr Strets’kyy facing each other. All over a pretty tactical fight, Belarusian Vesialou used his massive experience of two WSB seasons to overcome an opponent who was only appearing for the second time in the competition. Offering a crucial break to Azerbaijan Baku Fires, Vesialou also reached a clean 7-0 career record.

Next up at Light Heavyweight (80-85kg), last season’s Individual Champion Ramazan Magomedau was the clear favourite against Sergiy Lapin, a boxer which was still searching for his first success in four WSB outings. Apart from two little breaks in the third round to clean a bleeding nose, the Azeri has had absolutely no mercy in this bout, confirming his immense talent with a lot of power and multiple combinations.

Just to make sure that the Selimov vs. Lomachenko would not only be a headline bout, but most importantly a decisive one, Heavyweight (91+kg) Abdulkadir Abdullayev was then asked to push aside newcomer Dmytro Rudenkyi from Azerbaijan Baku Fires’ route. Unfortunately for the Ukrainian, this task was completed through an impressive KO in the fourth round, coming from a heavy right hook in the chin.

Concentrated as ever, having in mind that they were their team’s last hopes, double World and Olympic Champion Vasyl Lomachenko and World ChampionAlbert Selimov finally stepped into the ring for a promising Lightweight (57-61kg) bout. More focused and mobile in the first two rounds, Lomachenko probably thought that he would easily surpass his best enemy. However the fight got closer in the following two rounds and nothing could be taken for granted before the last three minutes. The Ukrainian superstar then decided to massively attack Selimov with body shots and got the last decision, thus the overall result, in his pocket.

Qualified within the best four teams for their very first season in WSB, the Ukraine Otamans will either face Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder or Hussars Poland in the semi-finals. They will host the return leg on Friday 19 April (20:00 local time) at the 7,000-seater Palace of Sports in Kiev.